By Richard Thomas
Generic, supermarket brands of Scotch whisky earning high marks in competitions and books like Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible have become something of a staple for newspapers, calling attention to how this liquor that costs 10 quid got the same rating as this other that costs 100. Because of that, I periodically pick up a bottle of such bourbons and Scotches and give them a try.
Sometimes they impress me to a degree, as was the case with Glen Orchy. Clarke’s Westpoint is not one of those, and will likely become fodder for a future experiment in how to improve a disappointing bottle of whiskey.
My first caveat about Clarke’s bourbon is that it might not even be bourbon by American standards. Early Times is Kentucky Whiskey in the United States, but bourbon whiskey when exported. The difference is that real bourbon is aged in new oak, whereas “Kentucky whiskey” is not.
So, if this stuff, bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) is real, new oak-aged bourbon, it must be very young, younger than two years old would be my guess. Whereas my opinion of Lidl’s Western Gold was that it was flat, this stuff from Aldi is thin, bordering on insubstantial.
The color is a very pale amber. The nose has a faint hint of vanilla and rye spice, and a slight tinge of alcohol. The flavor profile follows along the same course: barely present traces of caramel, corn sweetness, and a mineralized, boozy note. The finish is moderately warm.
Clarke’s Westpoint cost me €7. I’m actually surprised to find myself recommending this, but at that price point, drive to Lidl and get yourself some Western Gold instead.